Purple Kitchen Treats

Over the past few years, I have been working on a cookbook. During this time, I took time off to finish my Master's Degree. Now that I have accomplished that, I am working again on my cookbook, slowly but surely.

However, over the past few months, something interesting has happened...I have received multiple requests for baked goods, particularly my cookies. I am also receiving multiple requests for granola. So, with all these requests in mind, I have started to make my cookies for sale, along with my granola.

My official web site is available, but will be undergoing a significant redesign. Be sure to visit my "official" web site at: http://www.susanshonk.com and watch for some exciting changes.

From the heart of my purple kitchen to you,

Thursday, January 20, 2011

365 in 365 - #21 - Biscuits, Scones, Flavored Butters

For years I struggled with making biscuits.  I finally gave up and bought frozen or from the bakery.  I was intimidated by them (yes, me....unbelievable isn't it??).  Until one day, I was watching a show about bread.  The chef talked about developing the gluten by kneading the bread and that when making biscuits, we did not want to develop the gluten.  So, I went to the other extreme....and did not knead the dough at all.  I simply used a large wooden spoon to bring the dough together enough to get it out onto the board and bring the rest of it together very gently.  This approach produced the most tender and light biscuits that I have ever had.  

Wonderful Biscuits and Scones 

The most challenging thing with biscuits is to make them without making them tough.  It took me a very long time to figure out how to make great biscuits.  There are several tips that will make your biscuits come out perfect every time.  

First, make them from "scratch".  Try several recipes to see which one you like best.  I have a favorite that I use from Cooking.com.  

Second, add in fresh herbs for a savory biscuit, but add them into the flour and mix through before adding the butter.  
  • Freeze the butter so you can grate it into the flour.  This saves you the time of ‘cutting” it into the dough or having to use a pastry blender.  
  • Another option is to cut the butter into ½ inch chunks add it to the dry ingredients in the bowl of a Kitchen Aid mixer and mix on medium until the butter is approximately pea sized.  
  • Or…you can add the dry ingredients and butter to a food processor and pulse until the butter is approx. pea sized.
The most important thing to remember when working with any biscuit or scone recipe, or even (dare I say it) a boxed mix, is to not knead the dough once the liquid is added.  Even if your biscuit recipe calls for kneading, DO NOT do it.  Mix the ingredients very gently with a very large wooden spoon or your hands until it just comes together.

Once mixed, turn the dough out onto a floured surface and simply press the dough together, pat out to 1” thick and use your favorite biscuit cutter and bake according to the directions for your recipe.  Remember, the more you handle the dough, the tougher the biscuits (or scones) will be.

Flavored Butters

Flavored butters can be sweet or savory.  These are a selection of some sweet treats for your biscuits.  I am working on a few kinds of savory butters and will post them soon.  

Honey Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 tbsp honey
Blend well

Strawberry Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
3 - 4 frozen unsweetened strawberries, thawed and finely chopped
1 tbsp sugar

Add the sugar to the chopped strawberries and set for about 30 minutes making sure that the strawberries are at room temperature.  Then, mix the fruit and the butter well.

Cherry Pecan Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
1 tbsp Cherry preserves, finely chopped
1 tbsp finely chopped or minced pecans
2 tbsp fine sugar
Blend the ingredients well

Maple Walnut Butter
1 stick of butter at room temperature
2 tbsps real maple syrup
1 tbsp finely chopped or minced walnuts
Blend the ingredients well


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